Sadly, it’s been a while since I’ve finished a book. I haven’t been reading much lately because of business at work, but I finally got around to finishing The Kill Order by James Dashner, the sequel to The Maze Runner series.
So like most prequels before it: meh.
It was ok. There was nothing terribly wrong with it, but it just didn’t hold up to the series that it was retroactively introducing.
The first thing to understand is that I liked The Maze Runner series. I didn’t love them, but I liked them.
The idea of the story was probably better executed than the actual story was. There’s nothing wrong with that. There are plenty of books (and shows and movies, for that matter) that I liked the idea more than the actual end product.
Where we run into an issue is the unnecessary prequel. It’s a lot like the Star Wars prequels. In theory, it gives the backstory to this high-conflict series. In practice, it doesn’t hold the same tone (which it probably couldn’t, in fairness) and it spends more time trying to set up the future story than it does trying to tell its own story.
Here’s the rundown of The Maze Runner. Kids are trapped in a maze and some of the kids run around trying to find their way out and things aren’t what they seem.
At this point, we’re in a Spoiler Zone. Spoiler Zone ends when you reach Sassafras.
Things not being what they seem, leads to The Scorch Trials, where the kids are forced to trek through the scorch as a part of their trials and things aren’t what they seem.
This leads us to the last book of The Death Cure, where some of our friends at WICKED want Thomas’s brain to find the cure to the flare and things aren’t what they seem.
This leads to The Kill Order.
Ok, so we’re all caught up on reaching the The Kill Order. Before we delve into another spoiler zone, let’s give a quick review of the book and a brief synopsis.
The story is told in two parts. One is the A story that sets up The Maze Runner series, and the B story is told through flashbacks, setting up The Kill Order.
I liked this. It’s an interesting way to get everyone on the same page without having to tell everything sequentially. That said, I do wonder if that wouldn’t have been the way to go. Many of the characters are killed off (look at the title, this does not count as a spoiler) before you care about them. If he tells it sequentially, it might have been a better story (definitely different). It wouldn’t have been as quick, though, so maybe that’s why he opted for the route that he did.
Along the lines of not caring for characters, I really didn’t care for any of the characters. I didn’t sympathize with any of them. While I liked the two concurrent storylines, I have to wonder if that made me not care for the stories. They were in hell when I found them, and so I never saw their true trials as the unfolded. Instead, I found survivors and then slowly got to hear their surviving story. But again, I didn’t care about them because of that. The only character whose death was jarring (but not unexpected) was a character who only existed in flashbacks. In that case, I saw their progression as it happened, so they didn’t die before I got a chance to know them like the other characters did.
Otherwise, it was an interesting story that I didn’t really care about. You get the reasoning for the future books, but at the same time, you don’t really care. You also get an idea of the devastation that sets up the current book, but again, you don’t really care. You weren’t invested in the unburned world. You are introduced to a scorched world. With The Maze Runner, you introduced to an environment, but the real mess is introduced later, so you experience it with the characters.
Now on to SPOILERS. There are no more non-spoilers, so this is a good place to stop.
Pretty much everyone dies in varying degrees of crappiness. If you’ve read The Maze Runner, you already have an idea of how people are gonna go. It’s not pretty, but they actually do a good job of giving that perspective (though not fully).
The only one not to die helps set up The Maze Runner series, but still leaves the question of what the hell happens to the character who lives, and are we really any better off with her living because it sets up the shitty behavior of trapping and killing kids in a maze (and subsequent trials)?
So yeah. I don’t really know if I can recommend this or not. It’s an interesting book. I didn’t find it to be a waste of time, but I know there are better books out there to read.